33 years for murder of crime boss’s secretary

A businessman who battered a crime boss’s PA to death to steal her life savings has been jailed for 33 years.

Armen Aristakesyan, 43, murdered Serafima Mashaka, 58, after learning she kept a ‘significant quantity of cash’ in her west London apartment.

Ms Mashaka, known to her friends as ‘Sima’ suffered multiple head injuries after she was bludgeoned with an unknown object and was found dead in her shower.

She was the unofficial personal assistant to an alleged crime boss, Aleksander Angert, from Knightsbridge, in west London, who paid her £2,000 a month, jurors were told.

Mr Angert, also known as King or Angel, had been named in a Home Office report as an ‘organised crime boss’ and arms dealer from Odessa.

Armenian Aristakesyan had met Ms Mashaka through his girlfriend Kseniya and the pair had become very close.

Ms Mashaka worked as a ‘guide and guardian’ for Russian child students in the UK and also worked part-time as a PA.

Aristakesyan admitted he owed ‘about £60-70,000’ to various people, not including interest.

He said he went to meet his debtors to try and appease them on the day of the killing and later went to Ms Mashaka’s home to ‘discuss business’, including his illicit trade in cigarettes.

He denied murder but an Old Bailey jury convicted him.


Alexandra Healey, prosecuting, said the victim was murdered in her home in Haven Green Court, Ealing on 17 September 2019.

‘She had been hit multiple times to the head with a blunt instrument.

‘She was discovered the following day lying face down in her bathroom in a pool of dried blood.

‘The last person to see her alive was the defendant, Armen Aristakesyan.

‘At the time of Ms Mashaka’s death, the defendant was in a dire financial position.

‘He had borrowed money off anyone and everyone and was being pursued by all of his creditors.

‘Most significantly he owed over £100,000 to someone referred to as ‘The Turk’, which he had postponed repaying until September 10, 2019.

‘By September 2019 the debt, with interest, was over £120,000,’ said Ms Healey.

‘He had come to learn that Sima kept a significant quantity of cash in her apartment.

‘In as early as April 2019 he had begun to plot how he might get his hands on her cash.’

Following Mr Aristakesyan’s arrest, in October 2019, a number of recorded phone calls from April 2019 were recovered from his mobile phone.

In the recordings Mr Aristakesyan can be heard discussing his plan to burgle Ms Mashaka’s apartment while arranging for her to be out at the opera.

Ms Healey said: ‘The defendant was in contact with three men in relation to repaying this debt: Artem Minibayev, Neil Mahamdi and Sofiane Mahamdi.

‘Mr Aristakesyan agreed to meet Artem Minibayev and Neil Mahamdi on the evening on 17 September with the money he owed.

‘The only prospect he had of being able to hand over any money was if he was to steal it from Sima.

‘He initially attended Sima’s address at 5pm on 17 September. However she was not alone – she had a workman carrying out work on her flooring.

‘He therefore pushed his meeting with Minibayev and Mahamdi back to later in the evening and panned to return later that night when she was alone.

‘He returned to the address at around 8.30pm.

‘Sima is not here to explain what happened when he visited her that second time.

‘Whether the defendant killed Sima before stealing her money or whether she caught him stealing her money and then he killed her may never be known.

‘What is clear, however, is that he killed her and he left her flat with a substantial quantity of cash.

‘Sima’s body was discovered the following day.

‘When she had not answered the door to the builders, nor answered calls to her phone, the alarm was raised.

‘A locksmith was called to gain access to her flat.

‘Her body was discovered lying face down in the shower. She had been struck a number of times to the head.

‘The impact of one of those blows to the back of her head was so severe it had fractured the base of her skull.’

Aristakesyan, of Uxbridge Road, West Ealing, told police he spent the night of 17 September with his girlfriend.

He denied but was convicted of murder.

A woman relative of Aristakesyan sobbed in the public gallery as the judge jailed him for life with a minimum term of 33 years and told him he would probably die behind bars.

‘You are a thoroughly callous person,’ said Judge John Hillen.

‘You are greedy, selfish and arrogant and prepared to use extreme violence for your own ends.

‘You had no regard for this poor woman. You used her and you killed her in the course of crime.’

The judge said the victim was entitled to feel safe in her adopted country and her own home.

But Ms Mashaka had a distrust of banks which meant she kept large sums of cash in her flat which was ‘unwise and ultimately fatal for her,’ the judge said.

‘She was murdered in her home on 17 September 2019 by you, beating her multiple times to the head with a blunt instrument.

‘She was discovered the following day lying face down in her bathroom in a pool of dried blood.

‘Your motive was that you were in a dire financial position and you owed £100,000 which was due to be repaid immediately.’

Aristakesyan was due to pay the money back to a man known as ‘The Turk.’

‘So great was your need that you realised you would have to use violence,’ the judge said.

‘Because she would have recognised you that violence would have to be fatal. You had to kill her.

‘You struck her from behind with great force and then inflicted the coupe de grace, by smashing the object, whatever it was, into her skull as she lay face down in the shower cubicle.’

The judge added: ‘You have told so many lies that we will never know the truth.’

Aristakesyan showed no trace of emotion as he was led to the cells.